Young Bill is off in the land of Mr. Gates and good coffee, and is probably wondering why I haven’t posted anything. So here goes… I just finished Carla Stewart’s first novel, Chasing Lilacs. This coming of age novel is about a year in the life of a young girl growing up in the small Texas Panhandle town of Graham Camp. It’s a petroleum company town in the 50′s, small enough where everyone knows each other, and each other’s business. Sammie Tucker’s mom has “nerve” problems, and after an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, is bundled off to the hospital for shock treatments. The story begins with Sammie learning to deal with the emptiness of being without her mom, taking care of herself while dad is at work and hanging out with her best friend, Tuwana. Sammie’s mom, Rita can not get over the loss of her second child, and checks out emotionally on Sammie. It’s a good story, Carla keeps the interest going throughout the book, and if you like character driven novels you’ll really like this one, even her minor characters are well developed.
Sammie has her first romantic interest in the newly arrived California boy, Cly, reminding us that you can’t judge people by appearance or rumor. She struggles with her mom’s problems, her emotional absence from Sammie and finally a tragedy that Sammie must learn to overcome. Like many Chrisitian Fiction novels, this book has it’s share of very difficult times, but Carla handles it with a gentle touch and a real feel for the characters. Her inspirational words don’t hit you over the head with a 2 by 4, but you still get the message. There are interesting subplots surrounding the main story that keep you guessing right up to the end. There’s also the “mean stepmother” tale in the Aunt who comes to stay. And the story of the elderly widower that seems to have his own dark past, but befriends both Sammie and Cly. In the end Sammie learns to trust herself and follow her resolution to not run away from her problems but tackle them head on. You’ll want to weep with her and cheer for her, and thank Carla Stewart for an enjoyable story.
This book is published by FaithWords, part of the Hachette Book Group. They also publish Oklahoma author, Joyce Meyer.